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    Encounters in Theros
    Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
    by Dan F. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 12/28/2020 00:44:23

    Truly excellent random encounters, perfectly suited to Theros but adaptable to many different high fantasy settings.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Encounters in Theros
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    The Gardens Of Ynn
    Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
    by Dan F. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 12/28/2020 00:41:28

    This is hands down the best RPG purchase I've ever made. Buy it. It's a goldmine of idea fuel and a fantastic way to run a region that builds itself as you play.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    The Gardens Of Ynn
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    SND-01: Revenge of the Iron Lich
    Publisher: DDE Adventures
    by Dan F. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 01/21/2020 02:51:02

    This is the best dungeon I've ever read, and it's free. That's insane. When I first ran this dungeon one player collapsed on the floor and shouted at the ceiling, "THAT WAS AWESOME!!!"

    This is the module that made me fall in love with dungeon design. It's full of potent environmental storytelling, insane over-the-top ideas, and comes with terrifying monster designs plus dungeon-specific mechanics to make things special. There's a monster called a "Whirlwind of Living Invisible Dancing Vorpal Khopeshes of Extinction". There's a mechanic for rumors you've heard of the dungeon that let you ferret out the false ones while exploring to give you an edge. There's a real time time limit that keeps players tense and focused. There's also a bunch of great monster stat blocks, which is one thing nearly everyone agrees 4th edition did well - and those monsters can be adapted easily to any ruleset by just taking your favorite bits and cutting the rest.

    The one thing I'll call out is that the dungeon is entirely unforgiving, to the point of being unfair at times. This is not a dealbreaker, just read through it before playing (it's one of those modules, you really shouldn't run it live at the table - you'll miss out on some key ideas) and make notes about things you should probably change... Or have people come with disposable characters. Like, there's one thing where if you touch a pillar you instantly die without much warning. That's silly. Just do some brutal damage to the party, afflict them with a temporary curse, or give them a lot more warning. The khopeshes of extinction also have an over-the-top feature where if they kill a living being, they also kill EVERY BEING OF THAT PERSON'S RACE. Kill an elf? No more elves. I changed them to only kill 1 out of 12 of all members of that race on the plane... So we could dramatically roll a d12 for each NPC of the race they know of. See? Now it's perfectly reasonable. ;)

    Read this module for ideas, adapt it to your system of choice, and run it for some lucky players. Lean into the grandeur and terror of it, soften the edges a bit to make it feel evil but "fair"... And it's one of the best dang dungeons you'll ever hold in your hands.

    Oh, and the stat block it uses for the iron lich? I've used that statblock to inspire most of my future liches. So many evil spells that feel so perfect for a lich.

    5/5. For the price? 10/5. It's FREE.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    SND-01: Revenge of the Iron Lich
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    Death Frost Doom
    Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
    by Dan F. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 09/21/2019 17:27:31

    A player's role in the module as written is basically an audience member, passively listening to creepy and gross descriptions until the GM tells them they lost.

    The only reason I gave this 2 stars is because some of the atmosphere and ideas are cool enough that a GM with better design chops can pull them out and use them elsehwere, or fix this broken module.

    Great opening atmosphere is tarnished by some weirdly silly and completely unnecessarily gross stuff. Needs to decide whether it's atmospheric gothic horror where the terror is in what you don't see, gross-out body horror trading on shock value, or whimsical 4th-wall-breaking silliness where you can play real world songs on an organ for in-game effects. The good ideas are incredibly good, the bad ideas are really bad. Also the adventure itself is very weak, with an unsatisfying "meant-to-lose" ending that you need to hack significantly if you aren't running it as a one-shot with players that don't mind "gotcha" moments and dying horribly. Crucially, there are basically no meaningful decisions for the players to make. It's basically a tour of a death cult's house before everything dies. The only things the players can do is make things worse.

    If you're looking for imagination fuel for an ongoing campaign, this has some awesome ideas. If you're looking for a fatalistic one-shot that trades on its cult reputation, you could maybe run this as is just to say you did it. You'll get some cool moments, but even a few small changes would fix its significant flaws and preserve the good stuff. I had to severely rewrite most of the module when running it and it turned out great, but any mediocre adventure can turn out great when you heavily rewrite it.

    As is, the module has cool scenery but is terrible as a game. The way to win is easy, "don't play". The way to survive is also easy "just leave". The way to survive if you don't do either is just "don't touch anything, don't interact with anything, just let the GM read the description then go to the next room". You miss out on a little treasure this way but as the module's own NPC says, the treasure isn't worth it compared to the risks and curses. It still amazes me how many module designers fall into these amateur traps of creating environments that don't want to be explored and punish the players for trying to... Play.

    All that said, you WILL be supporting Zak S. if you buy this, and that guy is a monster. There are a lot, lot, lot of other great adventures out there written by people who aren't monsters. Buy those instead. I wrote this review to honestly praise this cool-but-overrated module's good sides so I could point out it's not so special you need to suspend your conscience in order to buy it. You don't, not at all. There are no shortage of great creators with spooky ideas out there. Support them instead.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Death Frost Doom
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